First Days

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The first hours of my journey served as a good reminder for one of the reasons I was hitting the road in the first place. It took me almost two hours just to get out of the city. Once beyond the great span of the RFK Bridge, the road was highlighted only periodically by moments of free riding; the rest of the way to Boston, small road or interstate, was riddled with traffic. It was not until after Boston that I really began to feel as though I had left the city.

My goal was Rockland, Maine, where I had arranged to stay the night. Unfortunately the wealth of excellent riding roads in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, do not lead to anywhere near Maine, so I was stuck on the coastal roads, which offered no view of the coast.

As the first day slowly descended into night, I got my first taste of just how unprepared I was for this particular August, and perhaps, I thought, for such a journey. It was unseasonably cold, and when packing, I had completely disregarded just how cold the coast, and the forthcoming mountains could be. Though I have been riding for close to 10 years, and though I have ridden through every kind of weather you could think of, I still managed to overlook the most important reality of motorcycle travel: the variability and unpredictability of weather. I may have also forgotten my toothbrush.

The damp cold of the coast has the wonderful capacity to penetrate layers of clothing, so that by the time I arrived in Rockland my chattering teeth made it hard to formulate sentences.

I spent the next day wandering along the piers, visiting a lighthouse, looking for an affordable lobster roll, and diving in quarries turned swimming holes. There is an inexplicable grasp that Maine has on those who were fortunate enough to visit its shores. Maybe it’s the crisp, salty air, the sound of tugs and sails flapping in the wind, the friendliness of its residents, or perhaps that familiar draw of a simpler life. Whatever it is, it was hard to leave.

After a couple of days of shacking off the initial shock of actually having left everything behind, I was back on the road. I stayed along the coast on HWY 1, and detoured to go around Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park. In retrospect I should have camped, but instead I only dismounted briefly to breathe the air of our nation’s first national park east of the Mississippi.

From Acadia I continued on HWY 1 to Eastport, Maine, where I would catch a ferry to Deer Island, New Brunswick – a brief venture into Canada, before I would begin the world’s second biggest country in earnest a few days later.

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